Contrary to belief, older people in South Africa and Brazil become happier as they age. New research suggests that, with the right policies in place, a developing country can significantly improve the wellbeing of its older citizens.
The average levels of wellbeing experienced by older people in South Africa and Brazil improved between 2002 and 2008, due to a combination of economic growth and enlightened social policies, according to a study from the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme, a unique collaboration between five UK Research Councils.
“Our work contradicts many of the assumptions people have about the fate of older people in developing countries,” said Professor Armando Barrientos, Research Director at Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute. “It’s often assumed that people will become poorer and increasingly unhappy with life as they become old, but in South Africa and Brazil the opposite seems to have happened,” he said.
The research explored the factors that influence wellbeing among the elderly populations of the two countries. Brazil and South Africa were chosen because of their far-reaching social policies. “They are leading countries in their respective regions, with innovative social policies addressing poverty and vulnerability, such as child and disability benefits, low interest loans for the elderly and non-contributory pension schemes,” explained Professor Barrientos.